London Design Festival, day 3: Couch surfing 23.09.15


On our third day at LDF, we considered the indispensability of sofas, the prospects of Brazilian mid-century design and a very exclusive bucket

East London saw two contrasting furniture launches yesterday. Curtain Road stalwart SCP presented a brand new collection of six sofas clad in expectedly vibrant Kvadrat fabrics, all made at their Norfolk workshop. Old-timers such as Konstantin Grcic, Matthew Hilton and Terence Woodgate all took part in “Sofa in Sight”, the last producing a particularly eye-catching blue offering, originally sculpted in clay to achieve the sweeping form, with its curving, integrated back. The hammock-like Tepee from Lucy Kurrein is another highlight, with its slightly retro flavour, but perhaps it is Michael Anastassiades’s formal Rochester sofa – a first for the lighting designer – that explores the boundaries of the typology with most freedom. Its high sides and back in light oak create what Anastassiades admits that he struggles to find in other sofas – “a moment of intimacy, but also of privacy, in the digital age”.

Heading over to London Fields, Brazilian specialists Espasso launched the work of Zanini de Zanine on a London audience for the first time, fresh from winning Designer of the Year at this year’s Maison&Objet Americas. The son of acclaimed designer José Zanine Caldas, and a pupil of Sérgio Rodrigues, Zanine produced four seductive new limited editions for the occasion – a bench, chair, chaise and coffee table. Handcrafted by his Rio-based team of carpenters in a variety of reclaimed Brazilian woods sourced from demolished houses, the pieces show the marks of their previous existences, but without detracting from the richness of the wood and the sensuality of their curves. The prices may be high, but the quality easily compensates, and Espasso founder Carlos Junqueira was bullish about the prospects for mid-century Brazilian design, currently rivalling Scandinavian furniture for top prices at New York auctions, and about the burgeoning interest in contemporary Brazilian design across Europe, North America, Australia and beyond.

Finally, for some light relief, we headed to the launch of Ron Arad’s “vasque” for champagne house Ruinart, which claims to be the oldest in existence. The event kicked off at Arad’s well-hidden Chalk Farm studio, before relocating to Zaha Hadid’s Magazine restaurant, which sprouts from the side of Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery. Arad was in self-deprecating form – “It’s nice that we’re all here to celebrate a bucket” – when speaking of the limited-edition metal vessels, each crushed from above with a weight to create folds in the material. The process was inspired by the trampling of grapes, as well as Arad’s experiments crushing a series of Fiat 500 cars. “People always ask me why I never crushed my own car,” he says, referring to the one parked in the courtyard ...

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John Jervis, with additional reporting by the Icon team

quotes story

The sofa's high sides and back in light oak create what Anastassiades admits that he struggles to find in others – “a moment of intimacy, but also of privacy, in the digital age”.

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